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Cursed Mountain – Nintendo Wii

Cursed Mountain – Nintendo Wii

box artPlatform: Nintendo Wii

Developer: Sproing Interactive

Publisher: Deep Silver

Release Date: August 25, 2009

Genre: Survival Horror

Nerd Rating: 7.5/10

Reviewed By: Steroid Gamer

Cursed Mountain was released back in the fall of 2009 by publisher Deep Silver.  Back in ‘09 Deep Silver wasn’t quite as big of a name as they are today because THQ was still around and had yet to go bankrupt.  THQ’s bankruptcy resulted in Deep Silver digging into their pockets to get some popular franchises from THQ like Saints Row and Metro Last Light.  I don’t know how well Cursed Mountain did for Deep Silver financially, so I can’t say as to whether Cursed Mountain helped in obtaining all of those THQ assets. What I can tell you is that back in ‘09 Cursed Mountain didn’t get the PR and advertising push it deserved.  As a result, you get a game that is full of surprises and stands out among some of the best “unique-est Wii” titles, yet not too many Wii fans have played or heard of Cursed Mountain.  Luckily for you I’m here to be your guide.

Perhaps Frank froze to death? You know it's cold up there.

Perhaps Frank froze to death? You know it’s cold up there.

Cursed Mountain is an M rated game and was exclusive only to the Nintendo Wii and starts off similar to other horror themed games in the medium.  You play as Eric Simmons, a world renowned mountain climber, who is searching for his younger brother Frank Simmons.  Sadly, Frank was climbing the dangerous Chomolonzo Mountain in the Himalayas and….disappeared!  Gasp…I know how could this happen?  So, Eric makes his way through this 1980’s version of the Himalayas and starts looking for clues as to Frank’s whereabouts.  The story is honestly pretty great for a horror game.  It seems like most games in this genre fall prey to clichéd and stereotypical ideas and plots.  Enemies like zombies, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts are frequently found, or there is usually someone trying to “take over the world/universe/other dimensional realm” or something of that nature.  Don’t get me completely wrong.  Cursed Mountain has a few of the genre’s typical benchmarks, most notably that you fight numerous ghosts in your quest, but developer Sproing Interactive did an excellent job at keeping most of these conventions at bay and only including enough to classify the game as horror without falling prey to the genre’s famous tropes.

Oh, shit! Better shake that Wii-mote.

Oh, shit! Better shake that Wii-mote.

A lot of the plot relies heavily on Tibetan and Buddhism mythology.  Themes of great goddesses and myths of ancient power are found all throughout the game’s many collectible files.  As you ascend to the top of Chomolonzo some of these “ideas” become more and more of a reality, which I found to be a real treat.   I mean how many other games out there are based upon Tibetan ghosts and have monks yelling at the “dumb-white skinned man” for disturbing “her preciousness”?  I can’t think of any.  There are a few supporting characters in the game that do their small, brief part in keeping the story moving, but the real shining star is Eric.  Cursed Mountain draws its eerie and creepy vibe from the sense of isolation.  Eric wanders around villages, abandoned base camps, and the mountain itself, coming across only a few living people.  Eric doesn’t say a whole lot, but he doesn’t need to.  The writing in the game is very well done and Eric’s voice actor does a superb job bringing him to life.  At several points throughout the game I asked myself, “why the hell would anyone do this?  And what’s the point in going on?  Frank’s probably dead.”  Well, I wasn’t alone in my thoughts as Eric expressed similar ideas, and it’s always a good indication of a well-written story when the player’s thoughts are on the same page as the protagonist.

There is some room for improvement in the graphics department.

There is some room for improvement in the graphics department.

The graphics in the game weren’t all that great.  Some areas were more noticeable than others. It seemed like environments earlier in the game looked worse and that the graphics got better as you progressed. Bad muddy textures on the exterior environments, very short close-up draw distances, which is okay in some areas like the top of a snowy mountain where you can’t see two feet in front of you because of all the snow, and Eric himself were a little foggy in design.  However, if you can look past the bad graphics you’ll find a visual style that is constantly changing and full of artistic inspiration.  From the brown grubby villages, to the huge bronze golden monastery, the blue frosty caves, or the snow covered mountain tops, the environments in Cursed Mountain are great.  You have to be forgiving; sure, the roof of the monastery looks like a two-year old child’s painting, but why are you focusing on the roof in the first place?  What’s right in front of you, usually, looked more than fine.  The big key here is the artistic design was top notch and the varied environments kept my screen full of fresh new areas.   Yeah, it might look a little sloppy here and there, but so what? The in-game cutscenses weren’t rendered in real time.  In fact, they were all just still images that slid in and out.  I’m not sure if this was a creative decision or because Sproing Interactive wanted to avoid the bad graphics from standing out more.  Frankly, I kind of liked it.

In-game cutscenes were pre-rendered still images.

In-game cutscenes were pre-rendered still images.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Get used to arm soreness.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Get used to arm soreness.

The game is played with the Wii-mote and nunchuck and makes full use of the motion controls.  Cursed Mountain also has a familiar control scheme from older horror games that might put you off at first if you’re a youngster.  You can’t control the camera when moving, other than a small window of left to right, and you can’t run backwards or do a quick turnaround.  The controls are similar to the “tank-like” scheme that earlier Resident Evil games had.  Its not quite as primitive, but you still may be frustrated when a ghost comes floating after you and your only option is to run, stop, turn around, and then aim.  Just give it a chance.  Yes, the controls are set up more similar to games from 1999 than 2009, but the game is very aware of that and never feels cheap.  It was a design choice, one that was executed quite while, so after a few hours in you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

The "Third Eye".

The “Third Eye”.

The biggest and most frustrating problem with the controls is the combat, and sadly this is the biggest component of Cursed Mountain and the one that holds it back from being a phenomenal game.  When a non-living person, or ghost, pops out of the wall or materializes out of nowhere (I don’t know where ghosts live.  Do you?), Eric has a few options when attacking. He can use a variety of modified mythically enhanced climbing axes and his most basic move is to slash away at a ghost with his axe, doing minimal damage but pushing them backwards.  Early on a nice old monk teaches you the ability of using the “Third Eye.”  The Third Eye allows players to enter a “semi-realm” not quite on Earth, but not quite in ghost land either.  Basically, it allows you to aim at ghosts with the Wii-mote and shoot magic beams to kill/banish/defeat or whatever technically happens to ghosts.  Just know that magic beams make the ghosts go away.  Sounds pretty simple, right?  Well it is.  Eric can even perform a finishing move with his Third Eye by grabbing a weakened ghost and then performing the control prompts that flash on the screen.  These range from slashing the Wii-mote or nunchuck left to right, up and down, or diagonally .  Once again, seems simple, but this control scheme is the crucial blow to Cursed Mountain.

I really liked how simple the combat was and the game did a pretty good job of throwing more powerful and varied ghosts your way to shake up battle encounters as you progressed.  The problem is the prompts only respond about 65% of the time.  There is no difficulty option in Cursed Mountain and it’s not on an insurmountable level of difficulty, but having your controls only read 65% of the time can be completely maddening.   For the record, I tried exchanging Wii-motes, replacing the batteries, and adjusting the distance of the Wii’s sensor bar, and nothing made a difference.  Yes, the finishing maneuvers are optional, but that still is not an excuse for poor control responses.

Ghost are not your friends. Knock the ectoplasm out of them.

Ghost are not your friends. Knock the ectoplasm out of them.

Cursed Mountain is one of the most unique games I’ve ever played, filled with new concepts and ideas.  From the motion controlled combat, to monitoring your own oxygen levels up high on the glazed, snow drenched mountains, to climbing the mountains themselves with the fear of sliding all the way down to death, or finding a way to fill the room with smoke to make ghosts visible, Cursed Mountain is never short of something new.  There were some sweet fixed camera angels that provided a variety of new perspectives.  My personal favorite was walking along a narrow mountain pass and seeing how far below the hard dead ground was if I made the slightest misstep.

Staredown. Who will blink first?

Staredown. Who will blink first?

The gameplay itself doesn’t have much variety.  Aside from exploring the environments you mostly just fight ghosts over and over.  For the most part, the wide-ranging ghosts become stronger the further into the game, but I found several instances where I wanted something else to do.  “Another fight? Really?   Can’t there be something else to do?” I often found myself wondering.  A couple of puzzles are thrown in, but they are so straight forward I wouldn’t classify them as a puzzle.  There are a couple of boss fights as well.  One is very easy and not challenging in the slightest, however all the other boss encounters are great.  They require actual though and problem solving instead of sheer brutality.  The boss fights are also placed in perfect spots throughout the campaign, breaking up the gameplay at just the right time.

Don't slip...it's going to be a long way down.

Don’t slip…it’s going to be a long way down.

Cursed Mountain was a really fun game to play and if I was rating the game on a “fun-ness” level it would be scored even higher.  Sometimes a game comes with flaws and those flaws are easily overlooked because the game’s strengths are so strong.  Cursed Mountain can’t quite make that case.  The fuzzy textures of the characters and environments as well as the unreliable combat responsiveness make the game look ugly at times.  Opposite of the bad, is a great artistic design with varied creative environments that look beautiful in principle, or if you wear goggles and only look at what’s straight in front of you.  The story is written extremely well that for every low you come across there is a new cookie crumb scattered around to keep you invested and interested in continuing Eric’s quest.  You’ll face ghost after ghost and come across some neat mythological questions and ideas.  Cursed Mountain can easily be described as the very thing the game is, a mountain.  There’s two sides to every mountain the good and the bad.  So grab your pick axe and start climbing.  Just be sure to stay on the good side of the mountain.

Oh, and it’s really cheap.  You can find it brand new on Amazon for anywhere between 6.99-10.99 USD.  For that price, skip out on your next fast food adventure and take a trip with Eric Simmons and his ascent to the top of Chomolonzo.

Written by Sean Collins

Sean Collins


Sean Collins (aka Steroid Gamer) started playing video games when he was 8 years old. His first console was a Nintendo 64 and his first game was Mario Kart 64. He fell in love immediately and has been playing games ever since.

My current systems include; N64, Gameboy Color, Gamecube, Wii, 3DS, PS3, Vita, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox 360.

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  1. Thanks for proving that there’s more than terrible Wii Sports knock offs on the Wii 😀 Great, overlooked game!

     

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